Rare as hen’s teeth? Sure is! If you find one of these in a Palladian shed at the bottom of someone’s country estate, it will increase the number of Lamborghini Silhouettes known to exist from 31 to 32 (out of an original production run of just 54 cars). These two-door, two-seater coupes had a removable targa lid for those who liked the wind in their hair, making this the first Lambo open-top. It was a refined development of the not-very-good Lamborghini Urraco 2+2 coupe designed by Bertone to compete with Ferrari’s Dino and the Porsche 911, produced throughout the 1970s.
Bertone also styled the Silhouette, which was an attempt to improve on the Urraco. The Silhouette had much softer lines than the angular Urraco and was altogether kinder on the eye. It also had revised suspension and a more powerful engine, making it lighter and faster. But the two models were so close in terms of what they offered the buying public that it hardly seems surprising that there was room for only one in the Lambo product range — if there is a surprise involved, it’s that the Silhouette failed to displace the Urraco.
If the Silhouette failed, it was because the car had been created to target the US market, which required modifications like the fitting of a catalytic converter and various regulation requirements like plastic bumpers. This was a good car, but for good reasons (like poor build quality and the company’s high-profile financial difficulties) American buyers regarded Lamborghini with suspicion and the project died. Still, all the effort that went into creating so few Silhouettes wasn’t wasted — it contributed mightily to the altogether more successful Lamborghini Jalpa, launched in 1981 and destined for a seven-year run that would see over 400 units produced.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1976 (until 1979)
2,996 cc V8
Top speed of 158 mph (255 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.6 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
One concept car based on the Lamborghini Silhouette was built by Bertone and shown at the 1979 Geneva Motor Show — it was an elegant two-seater roadster that unfortunately never went into production.